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DA: Long Beach highway workers charged in equipment theft

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Two Long Beach city workers have been arrested on larceny charges for allegedly stealing $14,000 in equipment and then selling the items for scrap, Nassau County prosecutors said Tuesday.

The highway department workers, identified as Charles Porcaro, 48, of Oceanside and Jeorking Welker, 34, of Long Beach, were both arraigned Tuesday at the Nassau County Court. Porcano, an assistant supervisor, was released without bail after being charged with third-degree grand larceny and official misconduct. Welker, a former part-time employee, who was charged with third-degree grand larceny and third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, was being held on $2,500 cash bail. Both men are due back in court later this month.

Prosecutors said the theft occurred on Sept. 24, 2013, after Porcaro was told to move three mental salt spreaders from a locked facility to an unlocked storage lot in preparation for the Long Beach Fall Festival. Once the equipment was moved, Porcaro allegedly called Welker and told him the spreaders were in the yard “if he wanted to take them,” according to a news release. Welker rented a truck the next day and then sold the spreaders – which are estimated to have a value of $14,000 – to a scrap metal company for $313. Officials said the spreaders were “scrapped” and are “unrecoverable.”

Prosecutors said Long Beach highway department officials first discovered the theft and contacted Long Beach police. The case was later turned over to the DA’s office for prosecution. "Long Beach has been hit hard enough by natural disaster - the last thing the city needs is employees stealing equipment from its taxpayers, too," Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice said in a statement.

If convicted of the top charge, both men face up to seven years in prison. Neither could be reached Tuesday evening. A spokesman for the City of Long Beach did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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